If you’re competing or training every day, it’s imperative that you use your recovery time wisely. Having a recovery drink, relaxing, or getting a massage can all help you recover physically. It’s equally important, however, that you give your mind a break between heavy competition schedules or training blocks. If you can’t shut you mind off, you won’t be able to get a good sleep before you have to do it all over again.
To help you psych down, begin practicing relaxation techniques now. If you have ever used progressive relaxation, meditation, or other relaxation procedures, take some time now to knock the rust off of these skills so that you can use them effectively when you need them the most. If you have never used relaxation training before, try this out for several nights when you go to sleep:
Lie comfortably in bed with your eyes closed. Take several slow, deep breaths, and as you slowly exhale say the word “relax” to yourself. Release the tension in your body, and clear your mind of everything but your breathing. If you find yourself getting distracted by your thoughts, just let them float in to your mind and float out again. Don’t force it; just let it happen. Having this passive attitude is one of the most important components in relaxation training. As you continue breathing slowly and deeply, take a mental inventory of your body, and pay particular attention to the muscle groups that tend to hold your tension, such as your neck and shoulders. If you enjoy imagery, you might also try imagining a peaceful place in your mind, like the ocean or a mountain meadow. Use all your senses to imagine this scene as vividly as possible, and as you do so, let yourself relax completely.
As a heavy schedule or training week rolls on, you might find that you have the opposite problem: Your limbs might feel heavy, you might care less about what happens, and you might even have thoughts of quitting. These are signs that you need psyching up. To increase your energy, try taking several quick, deep breaths. As simple as this seems, rapid breathing activates you nervous system and can help you feel more energized. If you listen to music before a competition, consider making a new playlist of fast-paced, motivating music to listen to. Also, think of some cue words or phrases that help you get energized. Make these meaningful and personal to you. If saying, “Cowboy up!” makes you feel like a dork, then think of other things you can tell yourself when you need to get psyched up before or during a competition. Using imagery can also be very helpful.
Practice your psyching up routine in training and your psyching down technique each night for a week. Tweak your techniques so that they work best for you, and you will be able to manage your intensity and compete at your peak when it really counts.
Sat, August 1, 2009
by Dana Blackmer filed under